"It always seemed strange to me that the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second."
- John Steinbeck -
"Landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed."
-Karl Marx -
"The man who has won millions at the cost of his conscience is a failure."
- B. C. Forbes -
Corporate greed continues unabated, but at long last signs are emerging that the party may finally be over for corporate America's greediest and most irresponsible pigs. In the past day or two, President Obama (with echoed cries from enlightened members of Congress like Sen. Claire McCaskill [D-MO] and Rep. Elijah Cummings [D-MD]) has come down hard on corporate executives' grossly excessive salaries and bonuses as well as their lavish expenditures after receiving federal taxpayer bailout money to rescue the very businesses these people have helped lead to huge operating losses. Not since JFK, in his battle against the steel companies collectively raising prices simultaneously ("My father always told me all businessmen were sons of bitches"), has a President publicly spoken so boldly against the greed of corporate America. It is a refreshing and long-overdue sound. Obama's recommendation that corporate CEOs whose companies have received TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funds limit their annual salaries to no more than $500,000 per year is not at all unreasonable. Especially so, when you consider the President himself, the man responsible for our well-being and security, and the one who runs our government, is paid only $400,000 per year.
Corporate executives have come to develop a disgusting arrogance and sense of entitlement in recent times. As labor union strength has seriously and dramatically declined over the past three decades (ever since Ronald Reagan broke their backs during the 1981 PATCO strike), corporate executive pay has shot up like a Mars rocket and so have their bonuses. Meanwhile, these execs have succeeded in freezing workers' wages, cutting employee benefits, laying many workers off, and exporting millions of their jobs overseas to cheap foreign labor markets. To add insult to injury, the worst President in history, George W. Bush, even gave these wealthy, overpaid fat cats huge tax cuts several times during his terms in office. With government regulations eased through heavy conservative Republican pressure over the past 10 years, it is no wonder these execs have developed their sense of entitlement and godlike invincibility. Consider these recent actions undertaken after bailout money was granted them:
- AIG, who received $85 BILLION in taxpayer rescue funds, sent 70 of its "top performers" on a $440,000 luxury resort junket.
- WELLS FARGO BANKS, who were awarded $25 BILLION in TARP funds, had rented out 12 nights' stay at two of the most expensive hotels in Las Vegas for a casino junket for its elites until the move became public knowledge and the shit hit the fan. I might add that the cheap bastards at Wells Fargo feel it necessary to charge $5 per payroll check drawn ON their bank to anyone not holding an account there wanting to cash said check AT that bank. Nothing like preying on the little folk so the big guys can have their expensive getaways (and the CEO can be paid, yet hardly "earn", a $12 million salary)!
- CITIGROUP, recipient of $45 BILLION in bailout money, spent an estimated $10 million to sponsor the Super Bowl. For this money, its guests (executive, employee, or otherwise---they won't reveal who attended) got luxury suite seats at the game and admittance to extravagant parties. Citigroup also paid extra to host an outside-the-stadium "NFL Fan Experience" display. But the extravagance doesn't stop there, folks. Oh no! AFTER the bailout money was obtained, Citigroup's piggish execs pushed through approval for the purchase of a $50 MILLION corporate jet from France! Thankfully, pressure from President Obama and the media forced them to withdraw this ridiculous and unnecessary purchase.
- MORGAN STANLEY, who got $10 BILLION in TARP money, and who laid off 5,000 employees last year, recently held a lavish 3 day conference for its esteemed guests at a posh resort. Company executives defended their actions by stating they had obtained a discount rate of only $400 per night per room per person. But as Rep. Elijah Cummings of MD points out, "...for most people in my block, that would be half of a monthly mortgage payment, $400."
The list of corporate excesses could go on and on. This behavior is pervasive throughout the big business community. Executives are rewarded with "golden parachutes", millions of dollars at retirement, which they receive even if fired, and even if their poor performance has cost the company millions of dollars. These same people, almost to a man or woman, cringe at the very thought of giving their employees long overdue, signifigant wage increases. They oppose welfare for much the same reason, believing the recipients will develop a sense of entitlement which will adversely affect their performance or work ethic. Regrettably, this very sense of entitlement has come to fruition---among the execs THEMSELVES. They have lavished themselves with luxury for so long, and to such great excess, that they have effectively lost touch with reality. They have become blind to the needs of their own employees, their own communities, and to the entire country as well.
These fools claim that such gargantuan salaries and perks are needed to attract the best executives. Yet, in practice, this same philosophy is never applied to lesser employees. With workers, the idea is to offer as little as can possibly be gotten away with. These executive fools tell their employees that taking or doing a job only for the money is a bad thing. Yet what do THEY do? It is obvious to see the executive class has become a collection of badly corrupted and misguided ineffectual hypocrites. Even their logic is flawed, as many of these "best executives" have miserably failed their companies, their stockholders, their EMPLOYEES, and even their country and its TAXPAYERS at large, yet they continue to get exorbitant salaries.
President Obama is absolutely correct when he says it is shameful to reward failure with exorbitant salaries, as has been the practice in many of our modern-day corporations. They (or their surrogate Republican congresspersons) will scream and piss and moan at Obama's $500,000 maximum annual salary directive. But they will all be ethically, morally, and totally wrong in doing so.
The party's over, boys, and you've imbibed way too much at our expense. You'll try to find loopholes and ways to get back to your vastly over-compensated state of being, and you may even succeed. Ignorant and self-centered cutthroats like yourselves usually do. But your success won't last for long. This time, we won't let it!